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Governments Preparing To Bail Out DRAM Makers 494

Posted by timothy
from the bailing-buckets-the-new-best-conference-swag dept.
An anonymous reader writes "DRAM makers are facing one of the worst downturns in their history and governments around the world are lining up to help companies through the mess. Taiwan, Germany and South Korea all appear poised to offer some assistance to their DRAM chip makers. The chip makers' problems are indicative of global woes. Easy lending terms and a bright view of the future prompted them to build too many new DRAM factories. Much of the new output was aimed at Microsoft's Windows Vista, which has higher memory requirements than XP."
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Governments Preparing To Bail Out DRAM Makers

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  • Bailout Bandwagon (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slifox (605302) * on Monday December 15, 2008 @04:16AM (#26117725)

    Do government bail outs happen all the time, and its only recently that the term "bail out" has become popular? Or are all industries everywhere simultaneously going broke just now?

    I don't follow the financial world much, so all of a sudden I see * industry bailouts over and over again... From an outsider's perspective, it kinda seems like a bandwagon

    Where do I sign up to get bailed out of my personal company's (i.e. me) financial problems by the government?

    Anyways, isn't bankruptcy supposed to be the "bail out," but with accountability instead of just writing large checks and calling it a successful bail out?

    If anyone gets any government money, they ought to be held accountable for its use and for making sure that this situation never happens again.

    I wish politicians, CEOs, and just the general public would start looking at the long term costs and benefits rather than focusing on immediate reward. Think of all the current worldwide problems we wouldn't have to worry about! Then again, thats much easier said than done...

    • Re:Bailout Bandwagon (Score:5, Informative)

      by jcr (53032) <jcrNO@SPAMmac.com> on Monday December 15, 2008 @04:21AM (#26117753) Journal

      are all industries everywhere simultaneously going broke just now?

      You can get a pretty good idea how we got into this situation from here. [mises.org]

      Not all industries are going broke, but economic activity in general is falling sharply. How long this lasts will depend on how much effort governments put into delaying and interfering with the repricing and deflation that must follow an inflationary bubble of this magnitude.

      -jcr

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by davester666 (731373)

        It's just that more businesses are eligible for getting a bailout now.

        The basic rule for getting a government bailout, is that you need to be actively botching the handling of AT LEAST 1 billion dollars. Anything less than this, and you are just some nickel and dime mom and pop corner store, and don't deserve a handout. Once your company has reached the ability to loose over 1 billion dollars, you finally are in the range of handling real amounts of money, and thus, you must receive the backing of the gov

      • by ppanon (16583)
        In the US, it's probably going to last at least two more years. Because while the Real Estate industry is trying to convince everyone the market will hit bottom any day now, option ARMs [cbsnews.com] are probably going to continue to depress the market and make financial shock waves for the next two years. Personally, I don't think we'll see light at the end of the tunnel for at least another 2 years after that. For a decade, US citizens have been running ever high debt loads and it's going to take quite a period of savi
        • by Z00L00K (682162) on Monday December 15, 2008 @05:59AM (#26118281) Homepage

          The real estate values has been inflated much by the ability to pay, which in turn is a result of the ability to get loans with low security.

          Very few considers that the value of a property may have to be looked at for the long term, and not just short term.

          • by sumdumass (711423) on Monday December 15, 2008 @08:49AM (#26119239) Journal

            The problem with short term values is that not too many people in that position are actually being effected compared to all of the people who rode the wave for the right reasons.

            The ability to pay however is the key to this. Energy costs had skyrocketed which greatly effected the ability to pay. Not only does it suck the disposable income from your pocket, there was a breaking point in which everything else from food to toilet paper started costing more because of it. There is nothing in the US or most modern countries that isn't effected by energy costs if not just to ship them to the store.

            Unfortunately, energy costs are sort of a pet peeve of mine. There is a big push for alternative energy that simply doesn't compete with traditional sources in costs, efficient, and reliability, which will cause costs to increase again. Carbon taxes and use taxes based on carbon output seems to be in the future too, with both presidential candidates drinking so much cool aid this last election cycle and making sure the public knew about it, they are going to impose artificial limits to energy use and production in order to encourage the more expensive alternative energies. We have even seen certain party officials making statements that they want to raise gasoline taxes to bring the cost of fuel back up to $4.00 a gallon because it effected people's usage the most. For these reasons alone, it will be longer then two years before there is a recovery because now instead of adjusting and coming out of the problems, we will be adding back to them as soon as we start clearing them.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by ShooterNeo (555040)

              Here's the deal : burning hydrocarbon products causes measurable economic damage to other people besides the entity burning them. I.E. : if you burn a gallon of gas, you create air pollution. Also, your country may have to fight a war to make sure that gas is available.

              Economists call these things "negative externalities". The correct approach to fixing negative externalities is to charge a tax on the activities that cause a negative externality to other people.

              This would have the net effect of making al

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by aliquis (678370)

        Could you explain why the dollar gain strength when the american economy fails? Is it just because it's so big people trust it more?

        A smaller one would just crash wouldn't it?

        • by Nursie (632944)

          Dunno, the Euro appears to be pretty strong right now too.

          I wish the pound was. I'm planning to emigrate in a few months, if the currency tanks any further then my savings won't be worth **** in Australia. I was going to have a year off.

        • by geighaus (670864) on Monday December 15, 2008 @06:19AM (#26118371)
          The dollar got stronger, because everyone is busy paying back their loans denominated in dollars. This creates a temporary demand for dollar. But rest assured with injections of trillions of newly-created dollars into the economy, little of the value dollar has left will be disintegrated. Correct me if I am wrong.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by theaveng (1243528)

            On Monday December 15, 6:19AM, geighaus wrote:
            >
            > But rest assured with injections of trillions of newly-created dollars into the economy,
            > [what] little value [the] dollar has left will be disintegrated. Correct me if I am wrong.

            There you go. :-)

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by russotto (537200)

          Could you explain why the dollar gain strength when the american economy fails? Is it just because it's so big people trust it more?

          Because the American economy dragged down many other world economies with it. Surprised a bunch of smug Europeans who were rubbing their hands with glee waiting for the impending American collapse. The pound was especially hard hit because not only were UK banks invested in US real estate securities, but the UK had a real estate bubble of its own.

      • by TapeCutter (624760) on Monday December 15, 2008 @07:00AM (#26118631) Journal
        I left HS in 76, just after the oil crisis and the same year that the gang of four lost control of a famine infested China, since then I've seen bubbles pop, I've seen nations go broke, Japan make a decent car, the USSR military machine reduced to rust. There used to be a saying, "if the US economy sneezes the world catches a cold". As far as I can tell the US economy has just had a seizure, fell into a coma, and is still heavily sedated. Everyone else is hoping some Chinese medicine will save them.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by RogerWilco (99615)

        I haven't read all of the website you're linking too, but I don't really agree with a lot of the assumptions it makes.

        I'll pick one, in that it says that according to Keynesian Economics and Karl Marx the boom and bust cycle is inherent in the system, is contradicting the assumption that the free market always tries to maintain equilibrium between supply and demand.

        I think that the free market only works if the market is fully transparent and all players on it are known. Next to that, is assumes there is no

    • Re:Bailout Bandwagon (Score:5, Informative)

      by Dr. Hellno (1159307) on Monday December 15, 2008 @04:53AM (#26117925)
      I'd gotten the same impression, but it seems that the term has been in use for a while. Here's one example from 1979 [time.com]

      I hardly expect anyone to read that, so I'll summarize. In 1979, according to this article, the Carter administration offered 1.5 billion dollars to Chrysler in what was referred to as a bailout (also called, somewhat quaintly, a "tide-me-over"). Amazingly, the company was proposing a shift to fuel-efficient cars that would get them back to profitability "by 1981". This is all before my time, but I do know that if they ever followed that business model it can't have lasted very long. And so we find them today, stuck in the same ditch they'd driven into back in 1979.
      We've all heard that history repeats itself, but this is one of the most startlingly clear examples that I've seen. The difference today, as far as I can tell, is that in 1979 the bailout package called for Chrysler to have a clear plan going forward, and laid out strict conditions (I won't cite them here, but feel free to click on that big ol' link up there). By contrast, I've seen snippets of the recent hearings on a present-day auto-industry bailout. Irrelevant grandstanding about jets [bbc.co.uk] aside, these execs manifestly do not have any plan, and have admitted that they really don't know if the bailout will be enough to save the industry.

      We should not stand for this. The whole tired show has been seen before. The only difference, again, between the bailouts of today and those of yesteryear is that we no longer ask for any sort of accountability. That, and a couple orders of magnitude.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by jcr (53032)

        The Chrysler loan guarantee is usually cited as an example of a successful intervention by the government, but that's a rather shallow analysis. The money lent to Chrysler because of the guarantee wasn't available for other uses. Even though Chrysler paid back those loans ahead of schedule, the bailout allowed them to go on to destroy tens of billions of dollars of capital since then.

        -jcr

        • by node 3 (115640) on Monday December 15, 2008 @06:41AM (#26118503)

          Your assessment sounds a lot like the idea that a doctor saved a person's life is a 'shallow analysis', because the patient spent the next three decades smoking and eventually died of lung disease.

          A better example of shallow analysis comes from people who simply jump to the conclusion that government intervention always turns out badly.

          • Re:Bailout Bandwagon (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Dr. Hellno (1159307) on Monday December 15, 2008 @07:50AM (#26118863)
            The way I see it, citing the 1979 Chrysler "tide-me-over" (can we PLEASE start using that instead of bailout because it is awesome) as a successful example of government intervention is shallow analysis because that was a fairly specific type of government intervention, much more supervised than anything proposed in the current situation. I'm not against government intervention at all, so long as we have reason to believe that it will be used well. That is to say, I also don't believe that all government intervention is good. It depends on the situation. In the specific situation of the current discussions about an auto-industry "tide-me-over",
            - The jackholes we might give money to have NO plan this time and they make no guarantees.
            - There will be very little oversight
            - We'll have to bail 'em out again in another 30 years, and we KNOW this, because they were in the exact same situation 30 years ago (or at least Chrysler was).
          • Re:Bailout Bandwagon (Score:4, Interesting)

            by jcr (53032) <jcrNO@SPAMmac.com> on Monday December 15, 2008 @08:32AM (#26119117) Journal

            No, the shallowness I refer to is looking only at the effect on chrysler, while ignoring the effects of the misdirection of capital to Chrysler instead of to other people and businesses.

            A better example of shallow analysis comes from people who simply jump to the conclusion that government intervention always turns out badly.

            Show me an example of a government intervention in the economy which turned out well. You might want to read up on the Broken Window Fallacy first.

            -jcr

      • by theaveng (1243528) on Monday December 15, 2008 @06:47AM (#26118541)

        Chrysler did make fuel-efficient cars upto 1995 (like the 30mpg Dodge Shadow and 35mpg Neon), but outward pressure from Americans forced them to start making gas-guzzling Bricks known as SUVs.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by doktorjayd (469473)

      From an outsider's perspective, it kinda seems like a bandwagon

      merchant bankers, stockbrokers, debt traders... seems more like a conga line to me!

    • by aliquis (678370)

      Aren't they supposed to pay it back?

      But yes, I wonder what is most effective of paying them out or let other companies pick up the trash and try to be more successful in the same area later on.

      Also it suck that the poor people (aka people) should pay out the investors playgrounds when they don't happen to generate as much income longer. Fuck that.

      Maybe you should invest all your money in stocks and if they don't fare well maybe the government can offer you a helping hand for even more investments until the

    • Re:Bailout Bandwagon (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AlecC (512609) <aleccawley@gmail.com> on Monday December 15, 2008 @06:36AM (#26118485)

      The problem comes with the concept of "too big to fail" due to concentration. In the general case, you are quite right, If you have a hundred bakers, and there is not enough demand for bread to keep them all in business, the least efficient ones go bankrupt and the more efficient ones thrive, thus increasing the general efficiency of the baking business.

      The problem is when you have monolithic industries, or quasi monolithic industries, where the whole industry for one region sinks together. If you have one mega-bakery and that is badly run, you cannot let it go bust because there will be no bread and people will starve.

      The DRAM industry has become increasingly capital intensive: a new Fab costs billions, but produces vast numbers of chips. This means that there are very few fabs in one country, probably only one. Healthy shrinkage, by a few percent, is not possible: you lose 50% of your industry or none. And, politically, that is unacceptable for any single country. Worldwide, it would be correct to close down one or two DRAM fabs at the moment. A World Government, with perhaps 12 fabs, could look at the big picture. But Taiwan, Germany, and South Korea, with two or three each, cannot accept losing such a large slice of their industry.

      The same was true in the finance industry: because of their size, AIG, Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac were "too big to fail". Lehmann was adjudge not to be too big - but the repercussions of its failure are turning out much larger than expected.

      The same is true in cars. "Detroit", the Big Three American car manufacturers, is collectively "too big to fail". And they are so interlocked in the public mind that they would appear to sink or swim together. Mind you, their problems are basically the result of baling out Chrysler twice instead of letting it fail at a time when it could have failed on its own and brought the appropriate slimming down to Detroit.

      • Re:Bailout Bandwagon (Score:5, Interesting)

        by apoc.famine (621563) <apoc.famine@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Monday December 15, 2008 @07:30AM (#26118781) Homepage Journal
        I do wonder how a modified capitalist system would work, where there was a "written in stone" law that as soon as you owned more than 25% of a market, you were automatically required to split your company in half. It seems like this would promote all sorts of competition, and prevent "too big to fail" from ever happening.
        • by AlecC (512609) <aleccawley@gmail.com> on Monday December 15, 2008 @07:47AM (#26118851)

          One problem with this is to define a market. All vehicles, or just passenger cars, or just "traditional American gas guzzlers". All aircraft, or only 400+ seat aircraft (i.e. Boeing's thirty year monopoly with the 747)? If you introduce a brand new product (the microprocessor, USB sticks, commercial orbital launchers, a new drug) then by definition you own 100% of the market the day you sell your first product. Windows has 90% of the market for desktop OSes. Would it do any good to split MS up into four different suppliers of the identical code? Or to have four diverging implementations of Windows because the four companies would be prevented from co-operating by anti-trust laws. Splitting off, say, Office wouldn't reduce the OS competition.

  • by Whuffo (1043790) on Monday December 15, 2008 @04:23AM (#26117771) Homepage Journal
    It used to be that if you made a poor business decision and lost money you went out of business. But somehow in the recent past someone came up with the idea that just because someone is running a business they deserve to make a profit and stay in business.

    It's not just the financial institutions - now it's the car companies (stalled for the moment), airlines - and foreign businesses are lining up for a handout now too.

    Why bother with improved products or competitive pricing? Let's just build a factory, make some overpriced junk, then have the government give us a bunch of money? Seems like this is the new gold rush...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by setagllib (753300)

      I'm all for fair and equal, free market economics, but if it looks like a whole industry is going down, not just a single company, fair and equal bailouts are the right thing to do. If any one industry fails, it could cause a chain reaction that stalls virtually all production and maintenance, and things degenerate into the stone age or at least third world.

      Without RAM we don't have new computers, without new computers we can't even sustain the infrastructure we have, let alone grow it to keep up with new d

      • by totally bogus dude (1040246) on Monday December 15, 2008 @04:42AM (#26117875)

        If RAM is so crucially important, why are all the RAM makers having such a hard time? I can't see there'd be no demand for RAM for any significant (or even insignificant) period of time, since as you say it's an integral component of crucial infrastructure all over the world.

        Perhaps there actually is too much competition (i.e. more suppliers than the market can really sustain) and they're having to sell their product at prices which are unrealistic in the long term? One of the necessary side-effects of a highly competitive market is that there's lots of failures, after all. Especially if you consider the high price of setting up a factory, having a business plan that requires you to sell loads of RAM with tiny profit margins for the next few decades in order to break even is probably not a sound strategy.

        • by JasterBobaMereel (1102861) on Monday December 15, 2008 @07:46AM (#26118847)

          The problem is that there is currently too much capacity so one or more of the DRAM plants should close ...but which ones, each country has the attitude "not the one in my country" since they quite rightly assume that the survivors will be profitable and when economic times improve the countries without a DRAM plant won't get one in the short term

          DRAM plants are very costly to build and take a long time to get going but are very profitable when working near capacity ... the problem is there are currently too many and so all are working under capacity and so are losing money ..

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by TheRaven64 (641858)

          As with much of the current economic downturn, the problem is liquidity, not capital. All of the manufacturers have very expensive assets (their fabs) and make things that have a large market. The problem is that due to decreasing liquidity everywhere, fewer people are buying RAM suddenly. In the long term, it is expected that this will end and people will start buying again. Once they do, the manufacturers will make large profits again. Until they do, they have large debts from building their fabs tha

      • by HateBreeder (656491) on Monday December 15, 2008 @04:42AM (#26117877)

        It's not like there is no demand for RAM at all.
        The DRAM companies would not cease to exist, as people will still want to buy RAM.

        If a company fails, they usually sell their facilities to try and recover some of their debt..
        Someone would buy some of the fabs since there's still a lot of money to be made... hence, you get a smaller company doing the same thing.
        not a chain reaction that destroys all markets.

        • by Xest (935314) on Monday December 15, 2008 @06:30AM (#26118451)

          It's a little more complex than that. You're right as you say, the companies asking for bailouts wouldn't completely collapse, they'd sell off some of their factories that's true.

          But not all their factories would get bought up- the whole point is there's overproduction for the market's current demands so a small company isn't going to have anymore demand for their extra supply than the big company did for it's oversupply. Essentially, whatever happens, jobs are going to be lost to cut company costs, and there's the problem.

          As jobs are lost because of this sort of thing, there are a greater number of unemployed no longer available to buy products such as DRAM or whatever and so demand falls further, this has the inevitable result of further redundancies and the cycle continuous.

          So, particularly in the case of the US car manufacturers where so many people have the potential to lose there jobs there could indeed be an absolutely massive impact. I don't generally subscribe to doomsday scenarios so I don't think we'll see complete melt down, at the end of the day, the guys at the top will fiddle the system and magically conjure up some more money from their magical money device as usual. If things were left to run their natural course though, then there certainly is the theoretical possibility that everything could indeed go down the drain as collapse leads to collapse.

      • fair and equal bailouts are the right thing to do.

        And what is fair and equal? If you were to give money equally to all companies (relative to their sizes I suppose), you'd bankrupt the state many times over.

        And the state's money is YOUR money. In short, you're advocating distributing fairly and equally all YOUR wealth and more.

        No. Nobody should be, or have been bailed out. The banks are mostly responsible for this mess. I want to see heads rolling, where are they? instead of sticking these people in jail an

      • by jcr (53032)

        I'm all for fair and equal, free market economics, but if it looks like a whole industry is going down, not just a single company, fair and equal bailouts are the right thing to do.

        No, it's not. Things change, whole industries rise and fall, and that's how it should be.

        -jcr

      • by Sparr0 (451780)

        without new computers we can't even sustain the infrastructure we have

        says the Microsoft/Dell shill

      • and things degenerate into the stone age or at least third world.

        Or we could all herald the imminent arrival of Steampunk!

      • by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Monday December 15, 2008 @05:24AM (#26118087) Homepage
        We tell children they're all special and can't fail these day so is it no wonder we treat businesses the same way?

        Everyone is special and deserves a gold star.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by stephanruby (542433)

        I'm all for fair and equal, free market economics, but if it looks like a whole industry is going down, not just a single company, fair and equal bailouts are the right thing to do. If any one industry fails, it could cause a chain reaction that stalls virtually all production and maintenance, and things degenerate into the stone age or at least third world.

        Come on, let's say a couple of car manufacturers go down, then the surviving car manufacturers just come in and buy up the contracts and factories for p

    • The thing is that governments now realise that if they let industry sectors fail, that makes lots of people unemployed, which strains the state and cripples the economy.

      If people aren't earning, they aren't spending, and also, tens of thousands/hundreds of thousands of unemployed people who could have had their jobs saved may well feel unhappy in a 'get rid of this useless government' kind of way.

      So, its either bail out the companies, or sink into a very real and long term recession mixed with political unr

      • To be honest though sometimes people need to fail. You'll never improve if you can't hit rock bottom. Propping up the economy is only going to make it worse in the next down turn.
    • by jcr (53032)

      It used to be that if you made a poor business decision and lost money you went out of business

      That's still the case for most of the businesses in the country. It's only those who can afford to grease their politicians who get a free ride from the taxpayers when they fuck up.

      A free market is a profit and loss system. By interfering with the feedback loop, government allows businesses to continue doing things they shouldn't do.

      -jcr

    • by John Allsup (987)

      These days, corporations arrange themselves like a line of dominoes. They are squeezing the bailouts because people in general can't afford for all the 'dominoes' to fall.

      One or two companies going out of business isn't too much of a problem, but large chains of companies that depend on each other is. That's what's changed. That, and the general cooking of the financial books that's been going on for the last decade or two, fuelled by and fuelling the immediate results and greed culture that is prevalent

    • Governments have protected critical industries, and the industries owned by friends of those in power, since civilization began. If you read Macchiavelli, you get wonderful examples of manipulating power and industry to your advantage from the Renaissance: the interplay of government and industry during the Medici era is wonderfully fascinating material.
    • by jambox (1015589) on Monday December 15, 2008 @07:16AM (#26118707)
      I agree that businesses that make bad decisions should be allowed to fail. So did the UK government, until they saw what happened after Northern Rock (a bank) failed and caused a run.

      I'm no expert on this but my understanding is that they then realised it was just the first of many. It then looked like if there was no intervention, most of the banking industry would fall apart. Sure, Lloyds TSB might have been ok plus a few smaller ones but it would've taken out the savings and current accounts of millions of people, plus destroyed a lot of infrastructure, making it difficult for the survivors to take up the slack as would be ideal.

      In the meantime, very many cashpoints would stop working and therefore many people would be unable to get cash or use their cards in order to buy food. BANG! Society falls apart.

      If this is anything like the UK banking sector, you may be greatly underestimating the danger that the memory chip business is in!
  • Bail Out Madness (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CuteSteveJobs (1343851) on Monday December 15, 2008 @04:35AM (#26117833)
    These Bail outs are out of control. Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd just bailed out Australian Car Dealers to the tune of $2B -- yes! That's car salesman! -- , hot on the heals of an $6B Bailout of Australia's world famous COUGH COUGH car industry. Not that America's $15B car industry is any more deserving. Oh and he just bailed out a failed child car company to the tune of $40M, but no one noticed. Hey real estate agents and IT workers are hurting too. What about bailing out us?

    Now I understand bailing out banks via FIDC, but now we're bailing out investment banks too, and now of all things DRAM Makers? Because they overmanufactured? There comes a time to let nature take its course and let more efficient *smarter* companies rise from the ashes. Why are we propping up dinosaurs? With taxpayer dollars at that?
    • Economists have no mathamatics training.

      They think the world is an infinite size with zero stoppage.

      Try growing 1000 fish in a small fish tank, eventually it will get so crowded, that 90% die.

      I think that 2B bailout wasnt free cash, it was just no questions asked loans, which the banks wont do anymore. Hello banks, you can keep all the billions in cash, but its useless if you cannot spend it, or loan it.

      But no amount of free cash or 0% loans will save the economy. Its unsavable, it has to crash/reboot/refor

      • by jcr (53032)

        Economists have no mathamatics training.

        Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration. Many of them understand mathematics just fine. The problem with economists isn't one of mathematics, so much as a problem of ethics. They tend to believe that economic problems can be solved by the application of government force.

        -jcr

      • Economists have no mathamatics (sic) training.

        That's a gross exaggeration, I'm an engineering major but planning on taking a couple Econ classes for general ed credit, and the ones I'm planning on taking are upper division classes and require Multivariable Calculus. Of course, from what I've heard from other students, engineers find Econ easy because it's just math to them, whereas the Business majors who don't have quite as good a grasp on the math find it challenging, but they still have to take the calc

    • Re:Bail Out Madness (Score:5, Informative)

      by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich@@@aol...com> on Monday December 15, 2008 @06:17AM (#26118359) Journal

      A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been about 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence: '>From bondage to spiritual faith; From spiritual faith to great courage; From courage to liberty; From liberty to abundance; From abundance to selfishness; From selfishness to apathy; From apathy to dependence; From dependence back into bondage.

      Alexander Fraser Tytler (1747-1813)

      • by flyingfsck (986395) on Monday December 15, 2008 @10:20AM (#26120067)

        "The budget should be balanced, the treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance."
        -- Marcus Cicero, circa 50BC.

        Some things never change.

  • I think that this is just another instance of customers locked into Win32-compatibility game. Joe Sixpack never needs more then 2GB of RAM. His Vista Home/XP home wouldn't use it anyway (OK, maybe 3GB). Applications stuck with 32-bits because, well, Joe Sixpack owns Win32 computer, not 64-bit one. DRAM companies are hostages in this game.
  • by jerk (38494) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {trebrehc}> on Monday December 15, 2008 @05:03AM (#26117963)

    As the only remaining DRAM manufacturer in the US, what does this mean for Micron? How will they be able to compete if the overseas companies get bailed out?

    • It's entirely possible that they or the US Government on their behalf will file a complaint with the World Trade Organization, calling the bailout an illegal subsidy and/or dumping. Every couple of years the industry tends to get slammed for illegal subsidies [theregister.co.uk] or price fixing [channelregister.co.uk], so they're due.
  • by NinthAgendaDotCom (1401899) on Monday December 15, 2008 @05:15AM (#26118031) Homepage
    Much of the new output was aimed at Microsoft's Windows Vista

    So you're telling me Vista is actually good for something, stimulating an industry? :-)
    • by ledow (319597)

      Well, apparently not because the DRAM makers have run into trouble!

      To be honest, the average persona really has no need for the power that modern PC's have and RAM seems to have now hit limits where it hadn't before.

      - CPU's are fast enough for anything now but even when bogged down with software on unmanaged machines, they're as fast as they can sensibly go. So instead, people are adding cores and that's solved that problem.
      - Hard disks are too large for the majority of people. Most people never fill a ha

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kazade84 (1078337)

      Hasn't every Windows release been (at least partially) responsible for the upgrade treadmill which in turn gives hardware manufacturers plenty of business?

  • If you read TFA, it's the low sales figures for Vista that has their panties in a bunch. Add in another sentence or something in the summary. The thought is incomplete. It's actually not easy to guess what they were trying to get at here with it.

  • If you skip the initial ad, I've found that PCWorld allow you to read the article for about 5 seconds before redirecting you to page full of ads.

    Guess I won't be buying or reading PC World now.

  • I read the whole article replacing DRAM for DRM, but it was fun :)
  • by ffoiii (226358) on Monday December 15, 2008 @06:19AM (#26118377) Homepage

    Weren't DRAM manufacturers just involved in a huge price fixing scheme? Oh yeah, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DRAM_price_fixing [wikipedia.org].

    So the industry that flouts the law is now requesting artificial support to help them through hard times? What's the real impact if these companies fail? Their assets get sold at a discount, their creditors take a loss, and the world moves on. The technology doesn't disappear. The knowledge of their employees doesn't evaporate. If the business can't survive without manipulating the market or government support, it doesn't deserve to exist.

    If DRAM is a valuable technology, somebody, somewhere, can run a business doing it. If that's not possible, then stop doing it.

    Maybe everyone should just name a new industry and then mandate that people give them money. That would be so much easier, than say, actually creating value.

  • by ursuspacificus (769889) on Monday December 15, 2008 @08:14AM (#26118999) Homepage
    There's a giant elephant in the room that no one wants to mention.

    As companies increase their market share, they reduce competition, and increase the damage to the economy if they fail. The nation-wide, interstate banks in the US are a creature of deregulation unleashing unmitigated greed on the banking sector. If one of these banks fails, we're in deep excrement. A handful of companies control effectively ALL the DRAM manufacturing in the world. further it seems that this handful of companies behaves as a monolithic block. They collectively banked on Vista being a huge driver for more memory. Too bad, so sad.

    If these outfits want government help, here's how I propose we give it to them [ursuspacificus.net] (It's actually about the US auto industry, but can be applied to just about any heavily consolidated industry with a few tweaks).

God may be subtle, but he isn't plain mean. -- Albert Einstein

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